Steel Instinct

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Chapter 3

It is now seven minutes ’til one thirty in the morning. Kalama is fast asleep. She wakes up to knocking on the door to her apartment. She gets up and answers the door.

“Ms. Ijsbrand, sorry to wake you at this time...” a police officer says.

“Huh...? What happened?!” asks Kalama, suddenly feeling more awake.

“We wanted to ask if you’re absolutely sure you don’t know anything else about the case,” the police officer says.

“Didn’t Frederik help?” Kalama asks.

“He was of little use. We still have barely enough information on the case,” the police officer explains.

“Well, come on in. Do you drink coffee?” Kalama asks.

Kalama and the police officer sit down for coffee. Both people are silent for a moment, sipping their own cup. The officer pulls out a clip board with some paper. He then sets a pen on top of the paper, ready to take notes again.

“Where were you on the evening of the massacre?” the police officer asks after some time.

“I was at work a few blocks from here,” Kalama states.

“And your sister?” the police officer inquires.

“She was at the party with her boyfriend,” Kalama says.

“Do you mind staring his name?” the police officer asks.

“Well, I don’t know his last name...but his first name is Tacoma,” Kalama says.

“Tacoma... We did not ID any Tacoma’s,” the police officer says, shaking his head.

“Hey, that’s suspicious, don’t you think?” Kalama asks.

“I’ll take note of it, but this does very little to help the case,” the police officer says.

“You still will be searching for Abby, won’t you?” Kalama asks.

“Yeah, we’ll continue the search for a little, but we have very little proof that she is still alive. We have no idea who the kidnapper is and where they took her,” the police officer explains.

“But you’re supposed to be able to locate missing people!” Kalama argues.

“Usually the criminals leave more evidence. We’re running on the accusations of one man,” the police officer says.

“But if you can’t find her, who can?!” asks Kalama, sounding distressed.

“There never was a 100% chance that we would find her,” the police officer says.

“THEN WHAT USE ARE YOU?!” Kalama asks.

“Hey, calm down... I know you are frustrated, but you cannot yell at the police...” the police officer says.

“YOU MUST FIND ABBY!” Kalama screeches.

“I suppose I should be leaving now, but if you find any more info, let us know,” the police officer says.

Kalama screams angrily. The police officer gets up from the table. He then walks back to the door and exits the apartment. All hope seems to be draining away.

Kalama’s laptop dings. There is a new email. Kalama wipes her tears away and clicks to see the message. She gasps in horror.

The email is from an unspecified address. The subject of the email is just the letter ‘A’. Inside the email is a picture of Abby tied up. There is also a short message included.

‘If you want her to stay alive, do not get the police involved.’

Kalama’s heart pounds in her chest like a beating drum. Her hands shake as she reaches to shut the lid of the laptop. If the police do find Abby, she’ll certainly be killed. Abby needs desperate help regardless.

“Something must be done...” Kalama says, putting her head in her hands, “But how can I possibly save her on my own?”

Her eyes dart around the room. There is a shelf with old text books on the corner of the room. Kalama abruptly gets up and grabs a book off of the shelf. A little smile crosses her face.

“Perhaps some old skills of mine will be of use...” Kalama says.

Kalama skims through a few pages of the book. She nods her head, recalling the information presented. She then closes the book and returns to the laptop. Her fingers skillfully dart across the keyboard, hitting various keys in a seemingly random order.

“I’ll just reverse this... And then it should reveal a bit more info...” Kalama mutters as she works.

Kalama flawlessly hacks into the system despite going awhile without practice. A few barriers attempt to stop Kalama, but she effortlessly breaks them down. Hacking into this particular system proves to be so easy that suspicion begins to rise. Kalama cautiously waits a few moments, expecting a virus or anything else to stop her.

“Huh, these people must be complete morons. There is hardly any security! It’s almost as if they wanted me to hack them...” Kalama says, staring wide-eyed at the screen, “Well! Come on! Make your move!”

After a few minutes, something does happen. A small gray ‘G’ appears at the bottom of the screen. The gray ‘G’ flashes rhythmically. Kalama stares at it, raising an eyebrow.

“Oh? Are you going to stop me?” Kalama asks, preparing to type in another code.

At this time, one of Ms. Gray’s henchmen runs into her bedroom. She wakes up and draws a gun. She aims it at his head. The surprised henchman drops to his knees.

“Sorry to awaken you...” the henchman apologizes.

“Sorry, I thought you were a stranger breaking in...” Ms. Gray says, lowering the gun, “What is it at this hour?!”

“We’ve been hacked, ma’am...” the henchman says, shaking, “I-I’m sorry... Should I corrupt their system...?” the henchman asks.

“Have you attempted to ID them first...?” Ms. Gray asks.

The two foxes that are draped around Ms. Gray’s neck wake up. Both of the neck foxes begin to growl at the henchman. Ms. Gray reaches up and strokes them gently. The foxes settle back down.

“It appears they are using a code name. ‘Flaming Ice’,” reports the henchman.

“Oh! Flaming Ice, huh...? I bet that’s the older Ijsbrand sister!” Ms. Gray says.

“So I should corrupt their system?” the henchman asks.

“No. Let her explore for a bit...” Ms. Gray says.

“You’re kidding, right?! You do realize she can access our secret files, right?!” the henchman asks.

Ms. Gray raises her gun again. The henchman ducks and covers his head. The foxes wake up again. Ms. Gray glares angrily at the henchman.

“DO I LOOK LIKE I’M KIDDING?!” Ms. Gray asks.

“No! No, ma’am! I will go right away!” the henchman yelps.

“You had better! Or else I’ll kill you and feed you to my pets!” Ms. Gray yells.

The henchman runs out of the room as fast as possible. He runs back to his computer and disables the security so Kalama can access the system. The flashing gray “G” disappears from Kalama’s screen. All the system files become accessible.

“Okay. Now I really know these people are idiots!” Kalama says, tapping to open one of the files, “Who is this person...?”

Kalama briefly reads through the file she opened. The file details positive reports about some sort of business. She scrolls further and finds the address of the place. She stares at the screen, absolutely stunned.

“Gray... Linda Gray... CEO of Silverarc Corps...” Kalama reads off of the page, “Ms. Gray!”

Abby’s words repeat in Kalama’s mind, “There’s something else...about Ms. Gray...”

Kalama clears the cups off of the table and sets them in the sink. She then quickly changes into better clothes as she is wearing sleep clothes. She then brushes her hair. She cracks her knuckles aggressively at her own reflection.

“Ms. Gray, you are going to pay for this!” Kalama yells.

Kalama makes a mad dash back down the city streets. She is unarmed, but her own fists are pretty decent weapons. Kalama makes it to Ms. Gray’s mansion, but finds two gunmen standing by the walkway. Clearly, the front entrance will not be accessible at the moment.

There is a side entrance that doesn’t appear to be to be guarded. Kalama sneaks towards the side entrance, hoping the guards won’t notice her. The door is locked and a keypad is next to it. Kalama groans quietly in disappointment.

“I should have brought my laptop...” Kalama says.

She tries a few passwords and each one fails. She eventually picks up a rock and smashes the keypad. An alarm goes off as soon as she does this. The two gunmen from the front come around the corner and aim their guns at Kalama.

Kalama’s heart races. She realizes she’s in danger. Both gunmen fire at Kalama and she ducks. The bullets whiz over her head. B-BANG! WHIIIIZZZZ! B-BANG! WHIIIIZZZZZ!

Kalama kicks one guy between the legs. He drops the gun, causing it to shoot the other guy. Both men cry out in pain. Kalama then clonks their heads together, rendering them both unconscious.

Kalama sighs and opens up the door. She is immediately greeted by several more gunmen. Her heart sinks as she realizes there is no way to get around them. The gunmen ready their guns, aiming at her.

Kalama knows all odds are against her. She is severely out numbered. She doesn’t surrender, though, she rolls and crashes into them. The men fall all over each other, off balanced by Kalama.

Bullets are fired, but most of them hit the ceiling. Kalama stomps on the pile and runs further into the building. A few of the men fire after her, nearly striking her shoulder. B-BANG! WHIIIIZZZZ! B-BANG! WHIIIIZZZZZ! Kalama dodges to the left, then to the right.

More gunmen are waiting down the next hall. Kalama dodges them and punches them both in the head. They collapse to the floor with groans of pain. She makes it halfway down the next hall before reinforcements arrive.

“Seriously?” asks Kalama, “How many of you does there need to be?!”

The few gunmen that weren’t knocked unconscious earlier show up behind Kalama. The men block both ends of the hallway, trapping Kalama in the middle. She gasps in surprise when she realizes this. The gunmen begin firing at her.

“ABBY!” Kalama wails, falling to the ground.

The gunmen cease their firing. Kalama whimpers in pain, unable to get back up. Her blood begins to flow from several gunshot wounds out onto the floor. The men grab her roughly by the arms and drag her back out of the building. They toss her into the garbage.

“We’ll surely get pay raises this time! This is the fifth time we successfully stopped a break in!” one gunman calls out excitedly.

“For sure!” says another gunman, “And if she wants to feed the body to her foxes, we’ll tell her it’s in the garbage!”

The men laugh loudly. They all turn and go back into the building. Kalama’s vision blurs and dissipates. She falls unconscious, barely breathing.

The men are all gone. A shadow shifts across the alleyway. The shadow stops over Kalama. Whoever the shadow belongs to scoops Kalama up and takes off with her.

Tacoma, back inside the house, sleepily checks the side door and shuts off the alarm. He yawns and looks around at all the unconscious and injured bodies. He raises an eyebrow and checks around the alleyway, but sees nothing. Tacoma shrugs and goes back into the house, shutting the door behind himself.

“Whatever the issue was... It’s been taken care of...” Tacoma says with a yawn, “I suppose I should check on Abby just to make sure...”

Tacoma makes his way to the room Abby is confined in. He sighs in relief upon finding that she is okay. He unlocks the door and enters. Abby moves her head up to look at Tacoma.

“There was a break in, I think,” Tacoma says, approaching her, “I’m glad you’re alright.”

Abby attempts to say something, but she is muffled. She struggles. Tacoma sighs. He then removes her muffler.

“Speak,” Tacoma says.

“I’m NOT alright!” Abby argues.

“You’re still breathing. That’s what matters,” Tacoma says, “I could have let the gunmen kill you back at the party. You should be thanking me for sparing your life.”

“I... I want my sister...” Abby says.

“So does Ms. Gray... If your sister has any sense, she should be coming soon...” Tacoma says, completely unaware.

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